(This may not appeal to transmen at first glance or even at all, but for myself and any other transwomen who’d like to use it,) I love Athena and like to pay homage to her. Since I came out, I’ve believed very strongly that she would serve well as a trans icon in the same way Venus is for genetic women and Mars for men. I’m going to quickly discuss why I feel this way,
First of all, I’m biased because Athena is my favorite God or Goddess in any polytheistic pantheon. The reasons for this are synonymous with why I think she’d be a good symbol: Athena embodies positive traits traditionally associated with both men and women. Shes a warrior and skilled tactician even more respected than Ares/Mars, and despite the fact that’d be considered a masculine role even today. She’s also associated with general wisdom and knowledge, attributes which ought to be attractive to both genders. Another outlet for this is supposedly her penchant for creative and artistic achievement. Simply put, Athena can do a lot of things–she’s not relegated to purely her looks as Aphrodite/Venus is.
Second, Athena was born out of Zeus/Jupiter’s head, similar to how transgender people’s true selves are inside their heads at first (as the rest of the body is wrong.) Then theres the fact that she took the name “Pallas” for herself after slaying the “real” Pallas, and to me, thats kinda symbolic of how we in the transgender community make a new name to reflect our true selves more faithfully. (Also noteworthy is Pallas was a male God, meaning Athena took on a male name for herself.) Finally, some of the other qualities associated with her are law and order as well as the olive tree, which I think have significant echoes in the community. Law because our primary goal at this time are recognition of our legal rights and personhood (which will mean fighting legally with the establishment). The olive branch because we strive for eventual peace within ourselves (coming to terms with who you are) between ourselves (there’s a lot of in-fighting within the community in my experience) and society at large (stop killing us please, okay?)
So thats the mythological background for my reasoning, but there’s many other factors for my selection of Athena as well.
I like the idea of using the symbol of an actual celestial object just as the male and female logos are taken from those of Mars and Venus, respectively. In space, Pallas (named for Pallas Athena) is a large asteroid. Similar to the actual size of the transgender community, it’s small compared to that of Mars and Venus and often ignored by laypeople. But it’s there, it’s part of the pantheon too and deserves to be recognized.
Finally, I’d like to look at things from a purely aesthetic sense. The Athena symbol is most often depicted as a diamond above a cross, (but sometimes as a triangle above a cross too.) I see the diamond shape as a play on the idea of trying to force a square peg into a round hole. Personally, that’s how I’ve often felt as a transwoman–I just didn’t really fit into the roles, expectations and mannerisms that were prescribed to me. Instead of continuing to force what clearly wasn’t working, I needed to find the place where I fit in, where I felt right.
I don’t mean to disparage the classic transgender symbol but I have never quite liked the design, personally. I don’t find it very creative, nor aesthetically appealing. I dislike how it has none of the mythological, cosmological or astrological significance behind it that the classic male/female symbols do. I also see it as sending the message that we’re all somewhere between male and female, where personally I believe being transgender is a unique experience which sets one apart from either pure masculinity or femininity. (IE, it’s not the purple to male blue/female pink, it’s green.) Of course, I recognize that everyone’s personal tastes are going to be different as are their experiences as someone who’s transgender. So I understand if Athena and her logo don’t appeal to others in the way they do to me.